Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Freddie Mercury's Vocal Type

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Gregsynth user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 13 Nov 09, 13:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I have seen some posts throughout the forums where people are debating Freddie's vocal type. I want to have some friendly debates on this topic. Everybody is invited! lol

I am a musician, a vocalist (not a good one, mind you), and have listened to Queen (live and studio) for years. I believe that Freddie is what some people call a "Baritenor."

A baritenor is a voice that is between the baritone and tenor vocal types. They can be divided into two types the lyric (a lighter sounding tone with a high tessitura), and the dramatic (a darker tone with a lower tessitura). Baritenors are natural baritones who have trained themselves to sing in the tenor range--this is a perfect fit for Freddie.

Freddie was 100% tenor in the studio (most likely a Lyric Tenor), but his vocal nodules. smoking, overtouring, etc , led to him dropping the highest notes live on a number of concerts, so he would sing in his natural baritone range (up to a Bb4 on most gigs).

Now from 1979-1982, Freddie would go "all out" and go for the high notes on many instances. I refer to this period as the "prime live" era, or the "live tenor" period.

A baritenor's range usually tops off in the higher 4th octave (A4-B4).

My ruling of Freddie's voice is "Lyric Baritenor."

LET THE DEBATE BEGIN!!!


I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury
The Real Wizard user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 13 Nov 09, 15:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

There's not much room for debate, really.  You've got it spot on.



"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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Posted: 13 Nov 09, 19:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Agreed, but I'm sure someone will disagree.

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Posted: 13 Nov 09, 20:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Seems spot on to me, as well. I have a friend who teaches music who asserted the same thing to me, several years ago, and I admit I at first didn't believe it. Now, after listening with grownup ears to more of Queen's catalogue, and, more live performances via youtube and DVDs, I see that he was right, afterall.  Either way, Freddie definitely had is own unique approach, vocally, to every song and certainly wasn't confined to any particular genre.


It is all random
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Posted: 14 Nov 09, 04:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Have you heard Soul Brother? Definitely Castrato.


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Posted: 14 Nov 09, 04:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The debate has always struck me as a pointless one because definitions like baritone, tenor and whatever were made up with a totally different kind of music in mind.  The very fact that people like to define him as a mix of baritone and tenor indicates that the definitions themselves are somewhat ill conceived in the first place!

Mind you I like your argument, it does make sense.  I just think the business of ascertaining his vocal type in the first place is a dead-end one.  Especially considering the changes his voice went through over his career.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 14 Nov 09, 04:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Beautiful post! What you say is indeed correct:-)


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Posted: 15 Jun 14, 10:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie Mercury is a TENOR. He is not a BARITONE and he is not a BARITENOR.

If you want proof of this don't take my word for it. Just look at other tenors performing covers of his songs.

Adam lambert sings "I want to break free" 1 tone lower here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeJHit1MWas

Elton john actually sings most of Bohemian Rhapsody in this link an octave lower and goes up for the high notes only a bit because his voice just can't take it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxle_wbMMWw



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Posted: 15 Jun 14, 16:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's beyond me why Lambert needs to sing Break Free down a key if he can hit higher notes than Mercury did. He is a true tenor. Mercury's speaking voice clearly has him as a baritone stretching to tenor range, hence baritenor.

As for Elton - once upon a time he was closer to tenor, but now he's definitely a baritone (has been since the mid 80s).


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Gregsynth user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 15 Jun 14, 18:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



The Real Wizard wrote: It's beyond me why Lambert needs to sing Break Free down a key if he can hit higher notes than Mercury did. He is a true tenor. Mercury's speaking voice clearly has him as a baritone stretching to tenor range, hence baritenor.

As for Elton - once upon a time he was closer to tenor, but now he's definitely a baritone (has been since the mid 80s).

Speaking voice doesn't determine the vocal type. It does give you an idea on how much vocal weight a person has - but it's just one part of it. Vocal types are determined by vocal weight, passaggios, and tessitura.

I wrote this thread almost five years ago (lol) and I've learned way more about the voice in general and Freddie as a singer. In the 70s - Freddie was definitely a true tenor. He had a very bright timbre and his lower range had very little weight to it. In the 80s, he definitely developed some baritonal qualities (mostly a stronger lower end and increased vocal weight), but his vocal tessitura increased to where he could sing melody lines in the 5th octave more easily. For his career as a whole - Freddie was a tenor (although a lower placed one to Roger, Brian, and Lambert).

Elton was a tenor up to the early 90s. He then shifted to a baritenor then a baritone as the 90s went on.


I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury
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Posted: 15 Jun 14, 22:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

^ +1


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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Posted: 16 Jun 14, 01:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"It's beyond me why Lambert needs to sing Break Free down a key if he can hit higher notes than Mercury did."

It isn't only about a singers highest notes. It has to do with Tessitura and where your voice sounds best for the most part of the song. There are many things that can classify a voice and if a tenor needs to transpose that song one tone lower then either Freddie was an even higher tenor or he strained his voice and pushed while Adam Lambert might prefer a healthier approach. Either way, Freddie is either Tenor or a Tenor...glad we got that out the way :)


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Posted: 16 Jun 14, 07:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's funny how people claim Adam Lambert to be able to sing higher than Freddie Mercury, so far this is clearly not the case as Freddie could go well into the 6th octave... I have never heard Adam Lambert do that.

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Posted: 16 Jun 14, 09:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree that he was a tenor.

I'm going to go even further and say that in my opinion, if he had been trained operatically, he probably would have been a lyric tenor.

I'm a classically trained singer, and you hear a lot of tenors who speak in a natural light-ish baritone range like Freddie did. I've read this in reference to his vocal range on several sites, as though speaking in a baritone range and singing in the tenor range is somehow unusual, bit it's very common. Lots of tenors also have good lower registers - being able to sing in the baritone range doesn't necessarily mean you're a baritone - the crossover between the tenor and baritone ranges is enormous.

There have been several very famous operatic tenors (e.g. Placido Domingo, Fritz Wunderlich), who began as baritones and then 'became' tenors when their voices matured and their techniques progressed to allow them to access their upper ranges. This didn't mean they couldn't sing in the baritone range any more (and Domingo returned to baritone roles in his later career). The same is true for sopranos, the female equivalent of the male tenor. Many sopranos can sing perfectly comfortably in the Mezzo-soprano (and often even alto) range. It's a question of 'tessitura', ie. how high you want the music to 'sit' in your voice.

Freddie's instinct was to sing in a 'high' tessitura, and he wrote songs for himself according to this instinct. The fact that he developed nodules and general vocal fatigue through badly produced singing (I mean bad for his voice physically, hence the nodules etc., not bad in the context of the music - he was a rock singer, not an opera singer, lest we forget!), doesn't change the fact that he was a tenor... (Only a clinically insane baritone would have written themselves, 'Somebody to love' in that key... even attempted 'We are the champions'... probably would have blown a gasket doing the original 'Another one bites the dust'...)

In my opinion, what Freddie did, in his early singing career, was to over-sing without enough breath support through the 'passagio' that links the middle and upper registers. Even trained opera singers who do this consistently, or who try to sing louder than their voices and/or bodies can support (especially through the 'passagio' area), risk developing vocal nodules (Natalie Dessay, for example, a very famous coloratura soprano has had multiple operations to remove nodules).

That's my contribution!




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Posted: 16 Jun 14, 14:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Is there anything more pretentious than a self-appointed "Official Thread"?



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Posted: 16 Jun 14, 20:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Back when I posted this thread, there were multiple threads about his vocal type that kept derailing into random subjects! I wanted to at least have one thread that stayed on the general subject so everybody could type what they wanted in the thread (hence the "official" part)! Don't see anything pretentious about that to be honest.


I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury
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Posted: 17 Jun 14, 02:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Penetration_Guru wrote:

Is there anything more pretentious than a self-appointed "Official Thread"?




not a nice comment, I would delete you

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Posted: 17 Jun 14, 14:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

attaboy_jhb wrote:

Penetration_Guru wrote:

Is there anything more pretentious than a self-appointed "Official Thread"?




not a nice comment, I would delete you


Don't you believe in free speech?

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Posted: 17 Jun 14, 15:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Gregsynth wrote:

Back when I posted this thread, there were multiple threads about his vocal type that kept derailing into random subjects! I wanted to at least have one thread that stayed on the general subject so everybody could type what they wanted in the thread (hence the "official" part)! Don't see anything pretentious about that to be honest.


While I commend your memory of the five year old context, I find it unlikely that a thread is any more or less likely to "stay on the general subject" as a consequence of being randomly described as "official".

As I believe I am now proving

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Posted: 17 Jun 14, 19:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hmmmm, guess putting "official" into a thread doesn't help with organization!

I'll edit the title to make the context clearer!


I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury